Portrayal of smokeless tobacco in YouTube videos

Nicotine Tob Res. 2012 Apr;14(4):455-62. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntr235. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Objectives: Videos of smokeless tobacco (ST) on YouTube are abundant and easily accessible, yet no studies have examined the content of ST videos. This study assesses the overall portrayal, genre, and messages of ST YouTube videos.

Methods: In August 2010, researchers identified the top 20 search results on YouTube by "relevance" and "view count" for the following search terms: "ST," "chewing tobacco," "snus," and "Skoal." After eliminating videos that were not about ST (n = 26), non-English (n = 14), or duplicate (n = 42), a final sample of 78 unique videos was coded for overall portrayal, genre, and various content measures.

Results: Among the 78 unique videos, 15.4% were anti-ST, while 74.4% were pro-ST. Researchers were unable to determine the portrayal of ST in the remaining 10.3% of videos because they involved excessive or "sensationalized" use of the ST, which could be interpreted either positively or negatively, depending on the viewer. The most common ST genre was positive video diaries (or "vlogs"), which made up almost one third of the videos (29.5%), followed by promotional advertisements (20.5%) and anti-ST public service announcements (12.8%). While YouTube is intended for user-generated content, 23.1% of the videos were created by professional organizations.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that ST videos on YouTube are overwhelmingly pro-ST. More research is needed to determine who is viewing these ST YouTube videos and how they may affect people's knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding ST use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*
  • Video Recording